THOUGHT PIECE the carling team

Growth in Craft Gin Distilleries


The number of craft gin distilleries in the United Kingdom has greatly increased in recent years. Between 2010 and 2016, the craft distilleries in Britain has doubled, rising from 116 to 233. Forty-nine new craft gin distillers have opened in Britain in the last year alone!

This substantial growth has been driven by demand for quality gin from younger consumers. According to the Guardian, two in five (42%) Brits aged 18 to 34 have drunk gin in the past 12 months, compared with 27% of over-45s. Younger consumers are looking for new types of gin with distinctive flavours and craft gin distillers are happy to provide.

Gin sales in the UK are expected to top £1.3bn for the first time in 2016, rising to an estimated £1.3bn by 2020. Many craft distilleries have responded to the growth in the industry by expanding operations and hiring more employees. There is now strong demand for workers from the craft gin industry, and that demand is only expected to increase over the coming years.

The Innovative Approach of Craft Gin Distilleries

Gin has been a popular beverage in the UK for hundreds of years. Traditionally, gin is created by pot-distilling fermented grain mash from barley and/or other grains, then redistilling that solution with flavouring botanicals. The aromatic compounds are extracted from the botanicals to flavour the gin — giving it a rich, diverse and colourful flavour. The primary botanical that is used to flavour gin is juniper berries (Juniperus communis).

Craft gin distillers have been experimenting with a wide range of botanicals including lemon and bitter orange peel, spices, anise, angelica root and seed, liquorice root, orris root cinnamon, lime peel, almond, grapefruit peel, saffron, and coriander. The beverages that craft gin distilleries are creating have helped to renew interest in gin amongst consumers.

Employment in the Craft Gin Industry

The types of roles that are in demand in the craft gin industry are quite varied. They range from marketing and sales positions through to hands-on distillery roles. Because many craft gin distilleries are small in size, workers are often responsible for more than one role.

Craft gin distilleries are typically small in scale and often use hands-on production processes. Because they produce gin using labour-intensive techniques, demand for workers is quite strong. The following roles are currently in high-demand within the craft gin industry.

Gin Production Roles

Craft gin distilleries are constantly looking for distillers, distillery supervisors, warehouse supervisors, bottling managers, production managers, maintenance staff, quality assurance staff, and supply chain managers.

Most craft gin distilleries are looking for applicants who are passionate about gin, creative, and hard-working. Staff members are often required to work in multiple roles, so flexibility and ingenuity is essential. Employees working at a craft gin distillery often have the opportunity to expand their role as they learn more about the industry. Candidates who are well qualified with either the BSc. or MSc. in brewing & distilling from Heriot Watt University Brewing or Distilling qualifications from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling are particularly in demand.

Management Roles

Because of the small size of most craft gin distilleries, the managerial team is usually very small. In many cases, the distillers are also the managers or owners of the distillery. However, there is growing demand for managers from successful distilleries that are starting to expand.

Sales and Marketing Roles

Having strong marketing and sales teams are crucial for the success of a craft gin distillery. The distillery needs to create a unique brand that closely aligns with their products then effectively market that brand to consumers. Sales people must be very knowledgeable about gin and capable of explaining the value of the distillery’s products.

Craft gin distilleries are looking for account managers, sales representatives, distillery tour guides, brand ambassadors, business development managers, and sales managers.

What kinds of qualifications are required to get into the industry?

There are a number of qualifications available for people interested in working for a craft gin distillery. For positions relation to sales, marketing or management, any relevant college degree or industry experience is all that is required.

For people wishing to work in the production/operations, there are a number of qualifications available including:

The craft gin industry has a strong future ahead of it! Its rapid growth makes it one of the most interesting sectors to work in and it is attracting some of the best distillers in the UK.